As the years come and go, so do our resolutions to eat better, exercise more and embrace a healthier lifestyle. These folks made the decision to implement life changes, and we hope they inspire you like they do us!
Getting healthy starts with a decision.
In August 2017, my wife Sheila and I were pleased with what we had accomplished since the great recession ended. It inspired thoughts of where we want to live and all the places we want to travel. But we just couldn’t shake the experience we endured with my mother’s passing a year earlier. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2015 and had a long, hard fight. For us, it put into focus the need for peak health and agility when we enter into our senior years. You can plan financially for a long retirement with your kids and grandchildren, but if you aren’t physically able, it will all be for naught. It was through the exploration of what our retirement could look like at 55 and beyond that inspired us to DECIDE to make a permanent change.
During the course of 49 years, Sheila and I have lost 20 to 60 pounds 30-plus times, but never kept it off. It was always difficult. This time was different. We DECIDED that our routine would always include an hour a day of some form of exercise, five days a week. Additionally, to fast-track our weight loss, we reduced our calories to 1,400 per day and tracked our calories and exercise with the Fitbit app. We started off with casual strolls at Hobgood Park. After a couple of months, we needed to increase the intensity so we started walking our neighborhood (it’s called Towne Lake Hills for good reason). I moved on to using the elliptical every day because it can be scaled up in intensity and there was never an excuse not to do it (the weather would never get in the way of my hour). Sheila does a blend of walking and Les Mills exercise routines in front of the television in our basement.
This combination of exercise and caloric intake brought us quick results, which inspired us to keep going. Between August 2017 and May 2018, I had lost 75 pounds and Sheila had lost 30 pounds. We had set May 2018 as our primary goal date because we had planned a Mediterranean cruise of Europe, which involved a lot of walking and sightseeing. Having this to look forward to was very motivating and kept us focused. Since May 2018, we have maintained the weight loss. Because an hour of exercise is as essential as brushing our teeth and non-negotiable, we can “break” on the weekends and still maintain our new lower weight. We have recently backed off on the weekend breaks and we are aiming for additional losses.
To anyone about to embark on this journey, my advice would be to not see this as a diet but as a redefinition of who you are. You can just DECIDE, “I’m a health conscious person and I behave like one.” When you believe it, your actions will support it and, in time, your body will reflect the changes. We are reminded daily of the benefits of this weight loss. Are you ready to DECIDE?
– Kurt Johnson
Weight loss is more mental than physical.
I began my weight loss journey on Jan. 23, 2018, the day after my brother Mack left for Navy boot camp. My dad, who was also in the Navy, told me I wouldn’t recognize my brother when he returned, and that’s when I decided, “I’m going to meet him there.”
When I started, I had no energy, no self-confidence and I would get out of breath just walking up a flight of stairs. At age 20, I knew this wasn’t how I wanted to live my life.
I began following a low carb diet, learned to make healthy snack substitutions and even how to cook a little. I used Google to find recipes, like low carb bread, using cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes and a low carb version of pita chips. There are so many healthy food alternatives available, it definitely makes it easier.
After six to seven months of just dieting, I started adding some exercise to my routine. This was new to me because I had never wanted anything to do with exercise. Now, because I have more energy, I enjoy it and my self-confidence has skyrocketed.
At Thanksgiving, I saw family members who I had not seen in a while. Some of them didn’t even recognize me. They were blown away with the change.
It’s been hard, but it does get easier. I have found that weight loss is more mental than physical. So far, I have lost 135 pounds, and I have 10 to go to reach my goal weight. Then, I plan to follow in my dad’s and brother’s footsteps and join the Navy. I’ll be working on getting fit to pass the physical training test, and I hope to ship out in March. Now it’s my turn!
– Alex Butler
From 400 pounds to 200 in four years.
In 2015, my bathroom scale said, “ERR” because I was too heavy. The scale at my doctor’s office told the truth. My waist was 66 inches and my shirt size was 6X. Trying to ride with my kids at Universal Studios and the ride attendant says loudly, “It’s not my fault you’re too fat to fit in the seat.” I was on a long list of medications for diabetes, blood pressure, cholesterol, etc. (all of which I no longer need). Doing even the simplest things such as standing up from a chair or walking through the store was painful and exhausting.
I didn’t want a surgical solution. I decided to incrementally do a little more and a little better each day than I had done the day before. At first, that was five minutes on the elliptical machine (which took a lot out of me), then six the next day, and so on. In the course of 48 months, I VERY SLOWLY and steadily worked my way up to running 10Ks and 8-minute miles. It took consistent baby steps and patience.
I figured out how many calories I was eating on an average day (5,000+) versus how many a man my size and age needed (3,600). Then I started tracking my daily calorie intake and eating only 3,500 per day. As I lost weight, I recalculated and adjusted frequently. Now I eat 2,000 to 2,400 calories per day depending on my activity level.
One of my favorite things, six days per week, is a HIIT – High Intensity Interval Training – group class at a heart-rate based fitness studio in Towne Lake. At age 49, they’ve helped me push beyond what I could do on my own and accomplish things I never imagined. As a bonus, that’s where I met my fiancé, Theresa!
– Lee Martin
Managing diabetes is easy, consistency is hard.
I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes on Jan. 13, 1988. I was unofficially diagnosed by my grandfather, a small-town general practice physician, over the phone. We had that diagnosis confirmed later that day after visiting my pediatrician with a blood sugar above 700+. I was quickly admitted to the hospital and began a lifetime of insulin administration and blood sugar checks.
Later that same year, my pediatric endocrinologist encouraged my family to send me to Camp Adam Fisher (camp for kids with T1 diabetes in South Carolina). My parents were incredibly hesitant but went along with his suggestions. After celebrating my 30th Dia-Birthday in January 2018, I look back and credit Camp Adam Fisher with providing me with most of my self-diabetes management knowledge. If you have a child with diabetes, check out Camp Kudzu here in Georgia, and sign them up.
As a young adult, I was always pretty active, but made many “young and stupid” decisions that were not conducive to good health. At the age of 25, I decided to join a gym and taught myself how to cook. Working out and eating properly have proven to be the two most important decisions of my adult diabetic life. As an experienced T1 and a new father, I know that my disease has to be my top priority. If I do not take care of myself, someone else will, and that’s not fair to anyone. I do not and will not allow myself to be a victim of my disease.
Diabetes management in 2019 is much easier than it was in 1988. Modern technology provides diabetics many freedoms to manage their disease; however, it does not substitute for a good lifestyle. If you want to take better care of yourself for 2019, consider working on the following for your new year’s resolution: No 1. Test your blood sugar often; No 2. Take your meds as prescribed; No. 3 Eat right; No. 4. Exercise often; and No. 5. Listen to your healthcare providers. Do not become a victim of your disease and remember that diabetes management is easy, staying consistent is hard.
– Dan Thrailkill
Mental and physical health are important to maintain.
I am a 35-year-old single mother of four. I moved to Canton after leaving an abusive situation, and I was at my peak weight of 195. I was miserable, but I knew my children needed me to get my life together. I started running and walking by myself, but my heart rate was all over the place. I started having higher blood pressure at my checkups. I realized I wasn’t taking care of my mental health in a way I should.
I was deployed in 2004 and again in 2007-08 for a total of 18 months. In 2008 I was wounded in Iraq and later diagnosed with PTSD. The years that followed gave me issues sleeping, problems setting a routine, and battling demons. I got myself into therapy quickly, and we worked through my issues so that, come 2017, I knew my mental game was right. Therapists told me that I needed to get out of the situation I was in because my deployment triggers were fixed, but my marriage was not healthy for me. You see, not everyone gets the help they need. It’s not a sign of weakness to get help. I decided I didn’t want to do anything medically and so I would sit in an office talking to someone two to five times a month. I moved a lot, as a military spouse when I got out in 2010, so I had to find multiple therapists. I also found the right “tribes” of people every time I moved.
I absolutely love the tribe of people and coaches I have surrounding me. We all come from many different walks of life, and we do a one-hour workout each morning together, with random races on weekends, and we focus on our endurance, strength and power. I love that my tribe pushes me to achieve greatness. I wear a heart-rate monitor and, in the last year, my resting heart rate has gone down almost 40 beats per minute. My weight is down to 150 pounds, and I’m so happy!
– Jessica Tyra